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Saturday, July 2, 2011

L.A. Noire

There seems to be a lot of talk about how L.A. Noire isn't really a game, or that it is just a reboot of the old point and click adventure games. The people who want to reduce this game to derivative tripe are just near sighted ass weasels. L.A. Noire is the latest venture from those who wouldst entertain us which seeks to blur the line between video games and interactive movies. And it does a damn fine job of doing just that.

To say that it isn't really a game is stupid. You put the disk in your Xbox and you play it. End of story. To call it a point and click adventure.... not so much. Those games required a bit more logic and decisiveness, there was no gray area. You either solved a puzzle or you didn't. End of story.

What we really see here in L.A. Noire is a situation where everything is pretty well laid out for you in a fairly straight path, and while you may wander off for a bit and play around in the massive, seething 1940s LA sandbox universe, essentially all main quest plot points are neatly laid out for you and you can't really fail at solving a mystery. You can simply delay the solution by wandering off in the wrong direction for a bit. Essentially, you are on a rail. Some people find this upsetting. Those people make me sad.

These very same people may have also disliked the illusion of control that your choices gave you in the recent game Dragon Age 2. I for one, find very well crafted character and scenery quite distracting from the developers machinations and I suspend my disbelief and am willingly lied to in order to be taken on a journey. To experience something new and fresh which has not yet been experience by mankind.

What we are witnessing is the birth of the newest form of storytelling. This is perhaps the most ancient of all human art forms. Traditionally we follow the adventures of a protagonist. We identify with his journeys, his struggles and we find them enlightening, cathartic even. This end has been achieved through oral tradition, written novels and the like, and most recently film and television. But Yea. Behold. Now we enter an era in which not only do we watch and listen to the story, but we also participate in and sometimes inconceivably shape the very stories laid out before us.

The ability of a company like Rockstar to unite so many disparate elements of production, so many stages where things might have gone wrong, and to distill it down into a finely crafted story, with some of the finest digitized acting and scene design ever fabricated is nothing short of compelling. Yes, its not a true sandbox game. But the sad truth of a sandbox game is that the story is not very strong or well defined. Inevitably the story, when left to the devices of the users, becomes something along the lines of the tale of a young upstart gentleman who devolves into a series of violent hooker beatings and car thefts that eventually peters out into a tale of boredom and ultimately leaves one wondering why GTA 87 was even made in the first place.

But to craft something. A real story. With real people, twists, turns, revelations, and heartache. That is an achievement. And yes, it does hearken back to the old point and click adventure games because back then story mattered. Characters mattered. Maybe, just maybe, we've gotten to the point where the graphics race has come to a plateau, and rather than resorting to the newest SFX orgy explosioneering, game developers are going to return to the helm of the old art train and start cranking out some classic mythology for future generations.

One can only hope.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Mortal Kombat Review, Dead Island Trailer

For all of those who have missed it on our YouTube Channel, here are my two video reviews. One is a response to the Dead Island Trailer and the second is to the disappointing Mortal Kombat Web Series. Now please know I do respect what they have done, I just want MORE!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Your Heart's Desire

First things first - Check out Episode One 'Going Pitbull' on TheGameRev.Com. It is now a fully operational battle station.  Kiss your Alderaans goodbye ;)

Second.  The interwebs are abuzz today with the ire of unsatisfied lovers.  I'm speaking of course about the romance options in Dragon Age 2.

So we have someone putting forth this notion that somehow Bioware neglected their main fanbase - "Straight Male Gamers"   (Bioware Social Network).  Now, in a game where females of all races are more often than not a) attractive and b) well endowed, this premise seems to me a bit farfetched.  Not to mention that nestled in the heart of his rant, our poor angsty, hetero protagonist makes the concession that there ARE in fact two options for him but he doesn't appreciate the fact that they are "Exotic" options.  LOL.  This meaning Isabella is NOT WHITE and Merrill is.... AN ELF.  I don't want to call Elf Racism, but I have spent an awful lot of time running around as a sexy Blood Elf Paladin, and that comment cuts me to the quick.  Ok, so what.  He's not into elves and dark skinned chicks.  But way to dismantle your entire thesis.  The Bioware rep makes, I think, a good rebuttal to his post on the forum link above.

We all know that I on the other hand tend to side a bit more with's Tycho in that I primarily play RPG's as a female.  And as a female, I take joy in flaunting my virtual sexuality every chance I get.  Every time the option to hit on someone comes up I'm on it like green on orcs.  It's fun to explore your options.  Yes, I would like to see if the Brooding Elf ex-slave would take me.  I know my mother disapproves, but he reminds me of Wolverine, and simply I can't STAND that everything I do somehow racks up rivalry points against him.  At least if I get him to sleep with me I'll have THAT to lord over him.  But NO.  He DID sleep with me, and then he broke things off.  What, I'm not pretty enough for you??  Is it my face tattoos?  My red hair??  You're just not into humans, WHAT?!  JUST LOOK AT ME WHEN I'M TALKING TO YOU IS THAT TOO MUCH TO FREAKING ASK???!?!!!  Then there's Anders the slightly fem demon possessed Mage who just can't take a hint or Merril who I quite frankly find annoying as hell, but hey she's a chick and that's kinda hot.  Of course there's always Aveline who's butch and totally unappealing as a woman, but she's into that templar dude and that just makes me jealous.

What strikes me most about this dialogue is that it is happening at all.  People are experiencing the real world perils of romance in the comfort of their own homes.  This is a new age of voyeurism, of experimentation that allows us to see and feel things we never would on our own.  Have I ever hit on an insecure elf girl moments after helping her kill her mentor and entire elven village IRL?  Nope.  I'm not even sure I've actually ever hit on a girl before, unless you count  that one time I asked a cute girl for directions to the post office while I was standing DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF THE POST OFFICE.  Then I tripped on my shoelaces and fell on an old lady with a walker and an oxygen tank.  She was fine.  I was so upset I got the hiccups for an hour and started playing FrontierVille.  Oy.

If Bioware can create a game that causes a person to experience the kind of hopelessness and frustration that real life romantic endeavors do every day, I think they deserve a slowly building golf clap.  Well.  Done.  We've all had our hearts broken.  When Aerith died in Final Fantasy VII, who amongst us did not rend our garments, gnash our teeth, and search desperately for the mysterious WHITE MATERIA that would return her to us for the entire remainder of the game?  Years later I still feel compelled to search from time to time in the hopes that someone, somehow figured out to bring her back to us.  So sweet.  So pure....  The point is this.  I care.  I care about fake characters in a fake world and I care about their fake feelings towards my fake avatar.  And while all of this is, well, FAKE.... It feels REAL.  And that means it's working.  

Straight male gamers??  Let me tell you something about straight male gamers.  Some of us are cool, some of us are not.  Some of us are kids, some have wives and kids and jobs.  Some of us play as straight male dwarves, others as bi female humans.  But if we can experience something in a game that causes us to grab our keyboards and reach out to the electronic universe to shout publicly from our virtual windows, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!!"  Then it's working.  They are doing something right.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Jump, Jump, GO!

Ladies and Gentlemen.  We are witnessing a rebirth.  A new era is emerging.  One that is familiar, yet all the same new.  And crowning.  Ok, bad phrasing.

Thesis: We have entered a Rennaissance of Platform Gaming.

I myself have been guilty of saying things like, "God, I'm so sick of all these First Person Shooter Clones!  Doesn't anyone have anything NEW to make?!"  And even the other day I overheard a lady gamer (yes, I know ladies *plural*) say that everything these days is just Wolfenstein 3D.  Which is obviously not true.  And yet it has the spark of truth.  There seems to be a tendency towards Shock and Gore over Quality in games these days.  Or at least I used to think that was true....

The other night I was so bored with *UNNAMED MMORPG* that I could spit.  It was time to move on.  So I booted up Xbox live and downloaded the little engine that could - SUPER MEAT BOY.  And holy hell am I having fun.  It's amazing how something so simple as jumping from platform to platform toward an endpoint can be so challenging, invigorating, and charming.  All it takes is some inspired art/scoring, fun and appealing character design, and well crafted game mechanics and suddenly I'm transported into another era.  The era of my youth where nearly EVERY game was some variation of the platform.  Super Mario.  Wizards and Warriors.  * THIRD GAME WHICH FULFILLS LIST CRITERIA*.

But let's think about the last couple years and what Xbox Live Arcade itself has been able to unleash on us.


And then there's Kirby's Epic Yarn on the Wii.  I'm sure I'm forgetting other examples as well.

Here we have a genre which has more or less languished since the dawn of FPS.  And I'll admit I was not the least bit sad to see it go.  At their peak, platform games seemed to get redundant, repetitive, and retarded.  Nothing was progressing.  I was tired of getting knocked into water by an offscreen bat I couldn't anticipate coming at me.  Why can't my superpowered character survive a little H2O?  I can shoot lazers out of my eyes, but I never learned to swim??

But now we are seeing FPS begin to languish inartfully (I take it back Portal, I take it back!!), and new technology and the ease of promoting indie DLC has brought us innovation we never saw coming.  And I'm loving it.  Bring it on, developers.  Bring me quality and joy the likes of which mine eyes have not known for well on 15 years.  Give me back my childhood.

Friday, February 11, 2011


Ok, Blizzard, cover your ears.........   So.  I've been playing the Rift Betas.

KEEP THEM COVERED.  You know what, BLIZZ?  Just leave the room.  It would be better if you just left.  Yeah...

Ok. Now we can talk.

Needless to say I'm feeling a little guilty.  WoW is a jealous mistress. It's like I'm cheating on Bo Derek with Brooklyn Decker.  Well not Bo Derek NOW.  But you get where I'm going.  There's a new, upgraded version of the hot bikini clad blonde in my life and her accessories are... ample.  Wow is classic.  It is fun.  It is streamlined.  It's what all the kids are playing.  But like dear Bo it's getting a little... OLD.


Sheesh.   But this here Rift MMO may just give the old ball and chain a run for it's money.  The graphics are not per se a mighty artistic achievement but they somehow feel more adult. More mature.  This of course will not keep any 'Fap to Mudkips' comments out of trade chat, but still.  It somehow seems an improvement.  And the talent trees are definitely deep and flexible.  Sorry Bo.  Having a healing melee class with a pet and the possible potential of tanking in the future shows a lot of options.

However.  This does make me a little nervous that they will be sacrificing multiplayer game difficulty in order to provide an individual player with options.  For example, in WoW  there are basic cookie cutter specs that just work.  If you break too far away from the tree you are going to have fail DPS or Healz or Threat.  By giving people a lot of options, there is a lot more room for error in speccing in Rift.  So.  Do they make encounters easier in order to accommodate diversity, or does it become even MORE complicated to put a well balanced team together for raiding? I don't know.  But I am interested to see how this all plays out.


While my little blue shammy troll is ... meh... CUTE?

Brooklyn Decker has some gnarly tats.

Just sayin.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

New Elder Scrolls. Yessssssssssss.

Dear Bethesda Software.  Please take all my money.  Drain all funds current and future from all accounts, and in exchange, let me live now and forever in the sweet fantasy paradise that is the world of The Elder Scrolls.  My experience with Oblivion was, to say the least, immersive.  When the game was finally over, I started 2 or 3 new characters which I played 20-30 hours more just to try and sop up a bit of that sweet fantasy crack and mainline it into my cerebrum.  It didn't work, however.  Way to leave 'em wanting more.

This game is right up there with Final Fantasy 7 and Metal Gear Solid 3 for me.  Indelible.  Inescapable.  Like a lover.  Like a child.  Like a mother.  An experience that at its conclusion leaves you feeling at once sweetly fulfilled and utterly bereft. You see it's face in every stranger's.  At every bus stop billboard.  In the bottom of each cup of coffee.

There is a VR future where you enter this realm Matrix style and live forever in the harsh and unforgiving wilderness, both a fugitive and a hero.  I want to live long enough to see this day.  To incorporate my being fully into the stratum and yield to its sweet succor.  Embrace me, dark yeti.  Make me whole again.  I yearn for your coarse and cruel instruction.

I mean, just look at that picture.

I want to go to there.

Saturday, February 5, 2011


OK.  I loves me some hot avatar action.  Yes, I want to date your avatar.  I want to marry it IRL.  But Bayonetta.... FFS.  Hot pseudo asian chick with glasses whose very weapon is not only her hair but also the only thing she is wearing on her entire body?!?!  Check please.

I tried to play this game.  I tried to judge the design, the controls.  All I find myself doing is desperately seeking that perfect moment when the hair pulls back to reveal the heroine in all her glory.  But it never comes.  (TWSS)

I can't focus on the game itself.  And so I die.  And die.  And die.

I'm passing this review off to Linus.  I can't take it anymore.  I need to go let off some steam...


Ok, Braid.  We get it.  You are awesome.  You are a gorgeously rendered, masterfully scored work of art breathing new life into the 2d platforming genre as never before.  Time control?  Yes Please!  Saving the princess?  Hallelujah.  She's in another castle?!  You're killing me.  The game is difficult, innovative, rewarding.  In short a gem.

But this ending.  Can we talk about this MindF@#$ of an ending???


You build me up.  You teach me.  You guide me.  You punish and redirect me.  Your love is righteous.  And all the while you promise me that my efforts will be rewarded.  With love.  The sweet and gentle love... of a lady.  The love of my life.   The princess.  I fight and fight, and yearn and yearn.  All for she.  My preciousssssss....

But then!!!

The mallet drops.  My world is shattered.  I am naught but a pawn of my own deluded psyche.  She wants me not.  She yearns not for my touch but for the utter eradication of my presence from her sight, indeed her entire life.  There is another beau that has caught her eye.  A haughty, handsome knight with whom the likes of I could never compete.  My heart is rent asunder.  I am the villain.  The foe.  The creepy guy who jumps on your balcony at night and says, "Surprise!  I'm your stalker!!  Will you MARRY ME?!?!"

Ok, guys.

I get it.

You're artists.  Innovators.  Reinventing something olde and classic in a way that is not only fresh but inspiring.  But let's take a look at your target 'demo'.  This is a gamer's game.  DLC only.  INDIE.  The kinds of people who are going to buy and play and LOOOVE this game are people like myself.  Hardcore.... nerds.  We identify with this character far too much.  I've heard of catharsis, but I don't really want a game that helps me piece together that the reason cute girl in the purple tank top keeps looking at me and moving to the next aisle over in the supermarket is not because she is flirting with me, but because she is doing the exact opposite.  She is fleeing for her life with a cart full of ramen and dismay.  Shame on you genius game developers.  Shame on me for trusting you.  I went from feeling like a guy who thought he had a chance to Captain Creepy.  For shame.

Sexy Toons

Much has been made around the office of my tendency, nay visceral need to create avatars which are A) Female and 2) Sexy.  To some this appears to be a trend toward virtual transvestitism.  These are the same type of people who say things like "You are what you eat.  QED you are an @$$HOLE."  And from this I can only conclude, JAMES, that you dine primarily on a diet of Gay Demon Pie!  Nothing wrong with that choice, just don't pretend you didn't make it.  But I digress.

The benefits of Sexy Female Avatarism are many and rewarding.  First off, baddass chicks kicking evil tail are hot.  See - Kill Bill, Sin City, and The Main Reason People Read Any Comic Books At All.  Second off, the posterior view.  I like video games.  I like killing bad guys.  I like the backside of a woman who is killing bad guys.  It's a three-fer.  Third - Ask any guy if he would be a hot chick for a day and you know what he'll say?  Hell yes.  Do I need to spell out why??  VIP access to the facilities, my friends.  This is why girls own so many mirrors.  I know I would.

So, does this make me a girl?  No.  Does this make me a cross dresser?  Not at all.  Does this make me a loser who doesn't know any girls outside of the workplace even though I keep trying to talk to that bendy Yoga girl at the gym where I don't really work out but really just go to view the buffet of flesh?  Probably. Definitely. Yes.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Help a Shaman Out -or- QQ Moar...

So for the first expansion since Vanilla WoW I decided that when Cata dropped I would spend more time questing and investing time in the game lore before jumping right into the good old dungeon badge grind.  What was great about this decision for me was that I could remain a somewhat casual player while not feeling like I was being shuffled to the periphery of the core game experience as I often felt as a casual raider at the end of WOTLK.  Doubly awesome was Blizzard's bounteous gift of iLVL 329+ Blues available at many of the end chain quest rewards.

Now here I find myself adequately geared to heal heroics on my shammy, and not in the noobtarded 'Oh, look I have leet plate gearz boosting my GS from their resting place in my inventory!' kinda way.  No.  I was ready.  Sound of Blues and sound of mind.  But with very little real group experience in the new expansion.  I am attempting dungeons out for the first time in Heroic mode.  So I am cautious.  I am honest.  I alert my groups saying, 'Hey, This is my first time here.  Please let me know the strats! :)'  My response is typically the compulsory 'K.'

 So I find myself in this exact situation in Abyssal Halls last night.  We're clearing trash.  Everyone is behaving like the unevolved aggro-spamming noobs WOTLK heroics trained us to be.  As many of you probably already know this is a big no-no in Cata.  Much of the player responsibility key to the Vanilla WoW experience has been restored to the game, which is a big win for long time players and a major fail for 12 year olds who bought their accounts on eBay.  Needless to say the tank can't hold aggro.  Dps is running around like LeRoy Jenkins on Speed.  And despite my reduced Mp5 and inability to spam chain heal till the Murlocs come home, I am holding this group together.  I am carrying the team.  Go me.  Not to be cocky but my epeen is huge.

We approach a dragon boss.  I ask for the strat.  I get, 'don't stand in shit'.  Easy enough.  I don't stand in shit.  But within seconds it's obvious that there is way more to this encounter than the traditional GTFO fire strat.  I die.  I start getting flamed in party for wiping the group.  I say, 'Why didn't you explain the strat to me?'  The Group Leader responds, 'Learn the Strat in regulars.  You are retarded.'  I am booted from the group.

You may say, 'Ryan, QQ moar.'  And you're right.  Maybe I should have at least researched the fights.  I certainly have been booted from groups for more bizarre reasons.  I guess what really got me about this one was that not only was I carrying the group, which they obviously were too noobish to realize, and not only was I kicked without having a chance to defend myself, but the group was in full knowledge that I would not be able to survive the fight without knowledge of the boss's abilities.  Not only that but Q times are not exactly swift these days.  Unless one of the group had a nice healing offspec, which I grant is highly possible, they would have had to sit around and wait for some random for 8-15 minutes.  They sacrificed a geared and more than capable player for a mere chance at having someone join the group who doesn't need an explanation.  What takes more time?  Wiping on a boss with Rtards who know the strat but can't watch Omen, or taking 5 minutes to explain a fight to a nearly best scenario random healer who will carry your fail group to the end of the instance?  Let the Valor points rain down.

I guess my concern is this - how did people get so impatient that they don't even realize they are wasting their own time and energy merely to spite people who pose a momentary inconvenience?  It's a game.  We're all here to have fun and help each other out.  We all want epic drops, but when you drop an epic healer the only loot anyone acquires is BoE Frustration and Dismay.  And you don't want to equip that shit.  It becomes Soulbound.

Also - don't Ninja my time and I won't Troll your Forum of Fail.

Ok.  I'm done QQing.  For now.... *sniff*